The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Students step up to give SMU another successful Relay for Life

Senior Katie Schaible said she had the proudest moment of her life on April 10 at the SMU Relay for Life Opening Ceremony. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Cancer Society for raising over $100,000 of donations during her four years of college. In addition to receiving a beautiful plaque, she enjoyed a delicious congratulations cake with friends while honoring her father who passed away from melanoma cancer seven years earlier.

“Prevention and awareness are important to me,” Schaible, who was named the top individual college fundraiser last year, said in an interview. “And the American Cancer Society is doing a good job of targeting young adults to show the ways they can raise awareness in their communities through Relay for Life.”

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Senior Katie Schaible poses next to her congratulations cake while holding her plaque (Courtesy of Katie Meier).

Each year, more than 4 million people in over 20 countries participate in the organized, overnight community fundraising walk where teams of people camp out around the track, taking turns walking around the track and working their teams’ fundraising booths. At SMU, the event goes on for 12 hours straight, but in most communities, it goes on for 24 hours, representing the endurance that cancer patients have to go through during just one night of treatment.

“Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer, and Relay for Life gives us a fun and successful way to help with the fight against cancer,” said junior Austin Brown, the President of the Interfraternity Council, which is Relay for Life’s biggest sponsor. “I would encourage everyone to get involved in some capacity.”

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Cancer survivors take a lap together around The Boulevard during the Relay for Life event on April 10 (Courtesy of Katie Meier).

SMU was selected as one of the top 25 fundraising college campuses and was chosen to participate in the American Cancer Society’s 72-Hour Relay Challenge held Feb. 23-25. For the second year in a row SMU came in first place, beating out big state schools like the University of Georgia and University of Washington.

“Relay for Life really shows the strength of our community here at SMU,” said junior Katie Meier, the co-chair of Relay for Life. “Student organizations, Greek life, professors, everyone comes together on The Boulevard to raise money and fight against cancer, which is so amazing and powerful.”

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Students gather around The Boulevard during Relay for Life’s Luminaria Ceremony on April 10 (Courtesy of Katie Meier).

Relay for Life is now ranked next to Program Council and Student Foundation as one of the top organizations on campus, Schaible said, and she contributes this to SMU students’ naturally competitive spirits.

“Our momentum as a relay has really increased over the past couple of years,” said Schaible. “So now it’s to the point where people really know about us, and people are excited about defending our title.”

SMU’s goal was to raise $160,000 this year. They raised $183,647.49 as of May 4, with more donations coming in almost daily. The fundraising will continue through August. The next fundraising season will begin in the next school year.

As of May 4, the Kappa Alpha Theta team was in first place with a total of $41,027.73 raised. Meier’s team, SMU Relay Exec and Board, was in second place with $37,873.87.

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The Kappa Alpha Theta team poses for a photo by its fundraising booth (Courtesy of Katie Meier).

Schaible serves as the team captain for the President’s Scholars. Out of the $25,626.80 that the team has raised, Schaible has raised $25,182.56 of it.

“Katie Schaible is graduating, so it’s going to take some other people stepping up in order to pull off what we’ve done for the past couple of years,” said junior Chandler Helms, who serves as the team captain for Pi Beta Phi. “But that’s definitely a good challenge to have.”

Schaible believes that it takes a lot of strategic follow-up to get people to donate. She sends friends, family members and colleagues an initial email asking for donations. Some people read it and donate right away, while some say they will and forget about it, and so she reminds them about a month later.

“I think a lot of people feel uncomfortable asking for money, especially a second time,” Schaible said. “People just need to be confident in following up and not afraid to approach someone a second time.”

Meier, who has raised $5,235 so far this year, also has tips for gathering donations. Her family and friends are very supportive, she said. For Christmas, she asked her relatives for donations as presents.

“I always tell people that every dollar really does count,” said Meier.

As for the future, Meier and Schaible hope to see SMU faculty getting more involved. This year, a few faculty members participated as survivors, but Simmons Applied Physiology & Wellness was the only faculty team formed.

“Relay for Life is huge among the student body right now, but I think President Turner needs to be there taking a lap with students,” Schaible said. “So hopefully in the next couple of years the big guys on campus start realizing how big of a deal this is.”

The two students also hope that overall community involvement continues to grow.

“Our biggest goal is to always have people wanting to come back,” Meier said. “Every number that grows is getting us closer to finding a cure for cancer.”

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Junior Katie Meier and senior Katie Schaible take a picture together at the Relay for Life event on April 10 (Courtesy of Katie Meier).
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